A current North Vancouver school trustee wants to apply her knowledge of B.C. education across the pond in the Nanaimo.
Jessica Stanley, who moved to Nanaimo in summer 2017 and resides in the South Wellington area, is a Nanaimo Ladysmith school district trustee candidate. She has a PhD in clinical psychology, is a mother of three boys attending local schools and continued as a North Van trustee as she didn’t want to trigger a byelection.
Stanley said the district faces similar issues as others, such as funding, but she is also hearing that people are seeking more collaborative relationships and more meaningful consultation on topics such as school closures.
”My own community in South Wellington had their school closed 10 years ago and yet it’s still very fresh for them there and from our partner groups,” said Stanley. “So I think that there’s a way that we could improve our collaborative and respectful working relationships. Some of that is just simply working on our communication. A lot of the stuff that communities need to know and would benefit from learning is not necessarily easily accessible.”
Sexual orientation and gender identity in education has been making headlines lately. Stanley said there is unfortunately a lot of misinformation. School boards are provincially mandated to include in their bullying policy, sexual orientation and gender identity, and that is a human rights issue, Stanley suggested. She is in full support of more inclusive schools and it is fundamentally about ensuring all kids feel safe and welcome. She pointed to recent research from UBC that talks about belonging and how that improves overall school culture and self-esteem for children.
“When we work on inclusiveness and equity, we improve student outcomes for all students…” she said. “It’s a hot topic, but I think that there’s lots of room for education there and I think that might alleviate a lot of the concern.”
Student enrolment seems to be rising in Nanaimo and Stanley said there are no easy solutions.
“If we have schools that are over functional capacity or we are having … significant challenges like siblings getting into the same schools as their siblings, well then we really need to look at either do we change boundaries? Do we need to open other schools? That’s when solutions are needed and that’s not really something you can ignore,” said Stanley.
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